PPP to inject new blood to boost polls showing

THE Muslim-based United Development Party (PPP) said yesterday that there will be a party leadership shake-up in the next two years to improve its showing in the next polls.

Boosted by his party’s performance in the recent general election, PPP deputy chairman Jusuf Syakir said that party cadres were now talking openly of “infusing new blood” at national, provincial and district levels to meet the rising expectations of Indonesian voters.

“We are targeting the Indonesian middle class and younger voters. To capture their votes, we need a leadership that can come up with coherent and credible policies that will match Golkar’s,” he told The Straits Times.

He said that the PPP chairmanship, now held by Mr Ismail Hassan Metareum, was also likely to be contested during the party congress in 1999.

“There are many eligible candidates for the position,” he said, adding that “different personalities” within the PPP would be jockeying for the top post in the run-up to the congress.

He said the immediate priority of the PPP was to focus on the MPR and presidential nomination in March next year.

“Latent party factionalism and internal conflicts over leadership changes will become more open after that,” said Mr Syakir, whom many party insiders believe had the best chance of succeeding Mr Metareum because of his grassroots support, his appeal to younger Indonesians and more importantly his background as a civil servant.

Party insiders told The Straits Times that Mr Syakir’s competitors were likely to be Mr Yudo Paripurno, Mr Djufrie Asmoredjo and Mr Ali Hardi Kiaidemak – all PPP leaders at national level.

A “dark horse” in the race would be the PPP’s branch chief in Surakarta, Central Java, Mr Mudrick Sangidoe, who was reported to have approached Ms Megawati Soekarnoputri earlier last month to allow her supporters to back the PPP.

Mr Syakir said that leadership changes were also needed at district and provincial level outside Java to improve the PPP’s organisational capability.

“This election showed just how very weak the PPP was compared to Golkar in terms of manpower deployment,” he said.

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